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Copywriting for Dummies



Noun: a misunderstood breed of wannabe novelists, dreamers & poets who have sold their soul to the agency life.

The life of a copywriter is surely a twisted one. I'm sure most of you copywriters reading this would agree. Way too many times in life, we are misunderstood to be people to look after the copyright laws of companies and whatnot. Then there's always that breed of lunatic who'll chip in with the, "Oh! You're a copywriter?......So that means you copy things and write them!.....Hahahahah."

No. Just no. You need to stop embarrassing yourself.

So for the sake of all of humanity, let's begin with a step-by-step analysis of exactly what copywriting entails.

Broadly put, copywriters are people who write with the primary purpose of getting people to take notice & then take action. Moreover, it is the art of selling. It is the art of getting your message across and saying all there is to be said in the shortest way possible. It's all about keeping it concise and only focussing on what's important. And I stress on the fact that it is an art, because 'writing' is just a small aspect of the entire gamut of things a copywriter does. Conceptualising the grand scheme of things, having the vision to oversee an entire campaign & covering all loose ends is what copywriting is all about.

So…Who do we write for?

Unlike novelists or journalists, copywriters usually write with an agenda: the client's agenda. It could be with the purpose of promoting a product or it could be about educating an audience or highlighting expertise.

Nowadays, with the advent of inbound marketing, one that emphasizes on talking directly to the end consumer rather than pushing a product or service, the importance of written content has skyrocketed.

Our names don't matter, and are rarely ever noticed. We write under the name of the brand. We're writing keeping in mind the sensibilities of not only the target audience, but also the client's marketing department, sales team and the self-declared moral police.

This means copywriters have to be versatile, quick learners and have very little ego.

Copywriting 101

Now that we've established exactly who a copywriter is and exactly what we do, here's an insight into the steps we follow while plying our trade. Let's just call them the fundamentals to writing good copy.

Step 1: What are you selling?

• Know your product inside out

• If you don't believe in the product itself you can't sell it

• Great advertising ideas can come from simply understanding the functionality of the product

Step 2: Who are you selling to?

• Understand your Target Audience

• See what works for them – Make it relatable to them,

Step 3: What is the tone of voice?

• Pick a tonality – You can be fun serious, corporate, quirky, to-the-point, offbeat, etc.

• Stick to the tonality – Don't confuse the audience. Maintain your stance.

Step 4: Follow the rules

• Language was invented for a reason – Don't make mistakes. It makes you look bad

• Speak about what's in it for the user! Miss your user & you miss the point. "People don't read ads. They read what interests them and sometimes that's an ad." --Howard Gossage

• Remember that you are speaking to humans – Sound human. Avoid jargon, big words. Be relatable

• Break the rules – There are no real rules. They're more like guidelines. Break free from the usual whenever needed

In the end we're just people!

So unlike popular belief, we're not all a bunch of alcoholics or delusional beings living in the era of Mad Men. Nor are we the glorified 'knights in shining armour' that I've been trying to project us as. We're just a bunch of normal people (if normal is a thing) in the abnormal world of advertising. We use our day-to-day lives as references and look for inspiration in the smaller moments of life to create ads that can last lifetimes. And we're doing pretty alright for ourselves. Or are we?

Jatin Chakraborty

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